Tennis-WTA agrees to more byes to ease concerns over calendar

DOHA Sun Nov 9, 2008 7:16pm GMT

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DOHA Nov 9 (Reuters) - The Women's Tennis Association has agreed to reinstate byes in certain events in 2009 to assuage players' fears about a congested calendar.

Several players were worried they were being asked to play two high-intensity events in succession, with no byes meaning there was no opportunity to rest between tournaments.

"There were several concerns expressed by our top players," WTA chief executive Larry Scott told reporters after conducting talks with players at the end-of-season event championships in Doha. "Their concerns related to two issues, primarily. One, a concern that there wasn't enough break between some of our big tournaments, which were back-to-back, primarily players playing in Rome right up against Madrid next year.

"Rome is a 56-draw tournament followed by Madrid which is a 64-draw tournament (beginning) on Saturday.

"Similarly in the fall, Tokyo is a 56-draw tournament followed by Beijing, which is a 64-draw tournament. Those tournaments overlapped very closely. Players were concerned it was too many matches in too few days."

The solution was to re-introduce byes for the semi-finalists in Rome and Tokyo.

"Specifically, what we've agreed is that we are going to award four byes to the semi-finalists in Rome, into the Madrid tournament, and four byes to the semi-finalists from Tokyo into the Beijing tournament," said Scott.

"Therefore, for those players that have to play the most matches in Rome and Tokyo respectively, they can start later and have one less match in a subsequent event.

"On the second issue, there was concern that players might be denied entry into some of what we call our Premier 700 tournaments.

"We've made some adjustments and Paris (Indoors), Charleston, Stuttgart, Stanford, and Los Angeles, we've removed the prohibition on players being able to get into the two tournaments of their choice. Every player will be able to play at least two of those."

WTA Championships winner Venus Williams said the discussions were very positive.

"We all worked together this week really hard and I think everyone's pleased," said Williams. "I think the good part of it all is that next year if we feel that something isn't working we've all learnt to come together and work together."

(Editing by Miles Evans)

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